Getting Started / 101

Get Ready For Your First Time

Try on your outfit before class to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions. Even though you will most likely go barefoot, it might be smart to wear your dance shoes around the house ahead of time (if you have some) so you can avoid any blisters or discomfort. (See the apparel section for an exact description of what attire is expected.)

Just make sure you are hydrated and that you are fueled with healthy food. Don’t eat a huge lunch or dinner and then run off to modern class before your body has time to digest. Again, just relax and get excited to work hard, have fun, and learn a lot!


A key part to any dancers ability to perform is the flexibility of the joints and ligaments, especially in modern dance class! Not a flexible person? Its ok! Flexibility takes time and patience, however if you make a goal to stretch every day you will see benefits in multiple aspects of your life. Stretching has been proven to alleviate aches and pains, improve circulation, decrease inflammation, and help prevent future injuries. You can also prepare by just working on your musicality and rhythm and connecting that with movement. There are many videos on youtube where you can work on basic combinations from your computer screen.

Here is a great instructional video for beginners to learn Modern dance! She also gives a little history and background to modern dance.

If you don’t exercise on a consistent basis you might want to begin with some basic cardio and strength training a few times a week. You will definitely be sore after your first class! It’s a good thing and means your muscles are working and adapting to your new activity. A hot shower or bath, gentle stretching or massage, and even hot/cold treatment will help decrease some of your muscular tearing. Don’t worry you will be ready to go full out during a dance class in no time!


Relax! Everyone starts at the beginning so you should not feel intimidated or nervous about being lost in class. That’s why there are beginner classes! A beginner modern class will be all about working on coordination, basic movements and technique, stretching, and learning how to piece together choreography. Usually there will be a warm-up, some across the floor work, and then a choreography combination that will be taught center floor.

An important characteristic of modern dance is improvisation so you might be introduced to this skill as well. If you are taking class at a well-known open class studio such as The Edge, Millennium, or Broadway Dance Center sometimes it will be up to you to warm up your body (as the choreographer will immediately go into a combination center floor). At first, learning choreography might be frustrating since even beginner classes can seem fast paced at times. Just relax and pick up the dance as best as you can knowing that you will quickly improve in this area. Modern, or “contemporary,” can be a very broad category and classes will range from modern jazz to more of a contemporary ballet style utilizing classical technique. You might be in a class that heavily focuses on technique or one that is more about style and musicality. It simply depends on the teacher.

Here is a nice instructional video for modern dancers.

If you ever have a question, ASK! Progress depends on your desire to learn, absorb, and ask questions about the style and technique of modern dance. There are some great videos on youtube that take you through the basic movements if you feel inclined to study up a bit before you get there. Just know that this is not necessary and you are not required to “do your homework.” At the end of the day, you are just doing this for fun and exercise anyways right?

Beginner's Check List

  • Modern dance wear/outfit
  • Dance shoes (jazz, ballet, or barefoot looking shoes like “foot paws”)
  • Socks in case you prefer those over bare feet or shoes (Be careful if the floor is slippery!)
  • Hair pulled back unless you have a certain cut that stays away from your face
  • Water bottle
  • Small sweat towel
  • Band Aids
  • Lock for studio lockers if you have valuables with you
  • Make sure to put your phone on silent if it’s in the room with you
  • Small notebook to keep track of the songs played or the terms you learned